Women CEOs are 45 percent more likely than males to be dismissed from firms, according to a new study accepted for publication in the Journal of Management. Even if they improve their work, female bosses are still more likely to be fired than men who have stepped up their performance.
“The bias against women in leadership roles is believed to be rooted in widespread stereotypical beliefs that associate the characteristics needed for success as a leader with men but not with women,” wrote the authors.
What’s more, the authors note performance matters for males but not for females. The rate of male and female CEO dismissal is similar when the firm is performing poorly, but female CEOs are significantly more likely to be dismissed than males when the firm is performing well.
“Dismissing the CEO is usually viewed as evidence of good corporate governance as it suggests that the board is taking its monitoring role seriously, however, our research reveals there are invisible but serious, gender biases in how the board evaluates CEOs and its decision to retain or fire particular CEOs,” said study co-author Sandra Mortal in a statement.
Forget the “glass ceiling” argument. The researchers say that as the number of women entering leadership roles continues to rise, they could be heading straight for a “glass cliff” as they face “more perils and risks compared to their male counterparts.”